The Mountain View , and members of the community development team joined developer Merlone Geier Partner Wednesday at the official groundbreaking of The Village at San Antonio Center.
"When Ronit Bryant, Margaret Abe-Koga and myself got elected a couple of years ago, one of the main things we were pushing for was to revitalize and change the ," said . "And here we are today, what is it six years later, and it is actually happening. We are pretty excited about it."
After his remarks, the ceremony in the parking lot of the former Sears on Fayette Drive continued with the mayor driving a backhoe into the canopy of the now-closed structure.
The City Council's mixed-use development on the corner of El Camino Real and San Antonio Road will change the face of Mountain View for the next couple of decades. It will also generate short- and long-term job opportunities and more than $1,000,000 in annual sales tax revenues.
According to Michael Grehl, vice president of Merlone Geier Partner, the fully financed project should be done by July 2013.
"We will finish this project," he said confidently.
The 229,000-square-foot project on 16.3 acres will have 330 residential units, a —the one on California Street will move to this new location—a pharmacy, three or four restaurants, one or more anchor retailers and numerous smaller storefront spaces.
Though not all of the 40-50 storefronts have tenants yet, retail brokerage firms like Terranomics are at work to lease the location to potential suitors.
"We emphasize that people from Mountain View, Los Altos and Palo Alto will shop here and that it's not far from the corporate offices of companies like ," said Matt Taylor, a retail broker. "It's also a mid-point between Highway 101, Internate 280 and right off the Caltrain."
Also, nearly 700 jobs will be created for the construction phase of the project, and upon completion, it's estimated that 800 new jobs will be available.
"This will be great for kids to get experience in retail and service jobs, and internships, and will provide opportunities for afterschool, weekends and summer," Barry Groves, superintendent of the , said at the event. "And as a school district, we'll receive property taxes, and the tax funding will help increase our school budgets."
While some longtime residents of the city reminisced and felt nostalgia for the previous businesses on that corner, they hoped the new businesses will revitalize the area.
"A lot of us who have grown up not just here in Mountain View, but Los Altos, Sunnyvale have some very fond memories of the San Antonio Shopping Center," said Oscar Garcia, president and CEO of the , who shared that he ate ice cream at the and shopped for baby clothes at . "We are going to be saying goodbye to the past, but it's also really, really exciting."
Garcia expressed how, despite the many planning meetings that resulted in an array of changes to the project, the entire community came together and collaborated toward the approval of a plan that will help the local economy and promote business and growth.
"That's what I see that The Village will bring to the city of Mountain View," he said.